And now, a word from our pontiff

Peter Jackson
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Today, I turn the pulpit over to the Holy Father himself, who recently made some surprisingly un-papal observations about trickle-down economics and other financial evils in today’s world.

The following are excerpts from Chapter 2 of his 84-page Evangelii Gaudium, released last month.

U.S. right-wing pundits were predictably unimpressed.

Sarah Palin found it “kind of liberal” and Rush Limbaugh called it “pure Marxism.”

If anything, some of the ideas seem to be snatched right from the pages of Naomi Klein.

Global economics is not even the central theme of the work.

But the bits that do focus on money and power resonate nicely with this consumerism-soaked time of year.

Over to you, Francis:

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

• • •

We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.

• • •

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality …

Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised — they are no longer even a part of it.

• • •

(Trickle-down economics), which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.

• • •

The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

• • •

The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

• • •

The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule.

• • •

Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and a return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

• • •

Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries — in their governments, businesses and institutions — whatever the political ideology of their leaders.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram’s

commentary editor. Email:

Geographic location: U.S.

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Recent comments

  • Cashin Delaney
    December 04, 2013 - 18:32

    Jackson and his infallible friend both owe their salary to Naomi Klein this week. Of the three, she is the least likely to blow the wad on porn.

  • Too Funny
    December 04, 2013 - 12:41

    Rule of thumb; if you're criticized by a has-been like Limbaugh or a never-was like Palin, then you must be doing something right.

  • Jeff
    December 04, 2013 - 09:27

    It's a nice change to have a pope who isn't working hand-in-hand with the CIA while holding inquisitions into nuns and priests who put the courage of their convictions into practice by helping people.

  • Terry Loder
    December 04, 2013 - 09:15

    Peter- '' OUR" pontiff ? Pontiff has a new PR Team in place and they have been successful in changing the agenda. What sex scandals? Corruption and coverup in Vatican? Vatican Bank reform? The very first announce by the Vatican on Nov 11 regarding the devastation left by typhoon Haiyan in the Phillippines was a DONATION BY THE POPE OF $150, be transferred not to the international red cross or other charity but to local catholic churches for their distribution. The donation, the vatican communique concluded, is meant to be the “first and immediate concrete expression of the sentiments of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement of the Supreme Pontiff towards the people and territories devastated by the floorings.” WHOW! How low can Peter's Pense go ! !It just another Papal Bull!

  • mainlander
    December 04, 2013 - 08:46

    I find it amusing that the so-called "religious right" are so offended by a religious leader actually stating the obvious and throwing their own teachings (which they have twisted to their own benefit) back in their faces. Looks good on them. Maybe Limbaugh, Palin, Santorum and the rest of them can learn something from the Pope.

  • Herb Morrison
    December 04, 2013 - 08:41

    The root cause of economic disparity lies in the fact that our economic system is a for- profit business. People who can afford to pay for goods and services have access to them and people who can't afford to pay for the aforementioned goods and services do without them. The only exception being goods or services paid for by Governments, as part of the so-called social safety net, which includes: Social Assistance, Family Allowance, and OAS). The oil-fueled economic prosperity being experienced in this Province in recent times; has resulted in those who have already have money, obtaning more money, while those of us who have always struggled financially, are faced with the task of finding the money to cover increases in the cost of basic necessities of life such as food, clothing, and adequate housing.

  • Ed Fry
    December 04, 2013 - 06:55

    The Pontiff needs to lay-off the weed and stay away from the far-left nonsense that he is obviously reading.

    • JD
      December 04, 2013 - 08:01

      Ed, I am not a very Religious person. I criticize the value of organized churches and their leadership. Your application of the modern-day euphemisms regarding left vs right just reinforces the ignorant polarizations of simple ideologies. Either/Or. Black and White. One side (if you identify with it) is deified, while the other is demonized. But as I said I am not a theologian. But I can identify that Christianity is based on many values that simply threaten corporate culture. Did Jesus (in the stories) condemn the temple and the golden calf and such? Is it not stories of the Good Samaritan taught in Sunday Schools? Believe me when I say I think the Pope is full of crap and a culture inflated focus of misinformation and greed. BUT this time there are words that actually seem to be logical, sound, and based in the moral direction that I was, as a child, sold as the Christian idea - later to be alienated by the truths of corruption and fallacy. The Pope and other leaders (not just the Dali Lama) need to start preaching the realities of humanity, and not perpetuation the greed and corruption. Finally a step towards something that I believe is what Christianity had sold out from for centuries.

    • Joe
      December 04, 2013 - 08:11

      Ed, your the first to bring up weed. Is this a constant fixation for you?